Senior Georgia defensive back Deandre Baker announced his intent to return for his final year of eligibility via Twitter on January 15, the same day as the deadline players were given to decide whether or not they would declare for the NFL draft.
Prior to the announcement, no one knew what Baker would choose, including Baker himself, who said he made the decision “an hour before the deadline.”
“It was all (about) do I want to further my career to the NFL or come back to the university and do something great that we never did before,” he said.
The feedback Baker received on his potential draft position came back as everything from a first round to a third round selection. The way the national championship game against Alabama earlier in the year ended played the biggest role in his choice to return to Georgia for his senior year.
“That can’t happen again,” he said. “I felt like I could help my team get back to the same game.”
His decision was good news for a Georgia defense that is losing starters at every level, including two of its top three tacklers in Roquan Smith and Lorenzo Carter, and its leader in interceptions in Dominick Sanders.
It was also unexpected news for Kirby Smart and the rest of Georgia’s coaching staff.
“They were surprised,” Baker said about telling them of his return.
Now, as the senior leader in a largely inexperienced albeit talented secondary, Baker looks forward to the different ways he can help the team in his final year as a player. While he’s always led the group from a “follow my lead type of deal” as he put it, Baker promises to focus on becoming more of a vocal leader of the younger defensive backs, helping them acclimate both on and off the field.
He’s also hoping to have one last shot at bringing a national championship to Georgia.
“I wanted to come back and do something great for my team,” Baker said.
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